Think I'm going to order some guinea keets--questions

Discussion in 'Guinea Fowl' started by Raen, May 31, 2012.

  1. Raen

    Raen Songster

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    We're buying a house with 15 acres, mostly field, that has a gazillion ticks on the property. So: Guineas. I've been trying to find someone local selling adults, with no luck. I guess I'm ordering a batch.

    What I hate about this is the whole "keep them cooped up for 6 weeks" thing. Can I at least let them out into a fenced run once they're a couple weeks old? Or am I doomed to never getting them back inside if I do that? 6 weeks just seems like a long time.

    Also, I'm thinking of splitting an order of 30 with someone. Will 15 be a good number to patrol the fields?

    I feel like by getting them now, it's going to be fall before they're old enough to do much with the ticks. True, or not? What about winter? Do they have to be cooped all winter? Gah.

    And the colors. I wanted to get the classic dark spotted ones but the variety pack ships earlier. Will the lighter colored ones be much more prone to predation?

    Sorry for all the questions, thanks in advance for answers!
     
  2. JLeigh

    JLeigh Songster

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    Hi, Raen,

    Especially if you bought adults, you would have to keep them penned for six weeks at least. Guineas need to learn where their home is, or they'll be gone the first time you let them out. I don't think there's any getting around that.

    Others will be more qualified to tell you how soon you can put keets outside.

    But I think all the penning, cooping and waiting is worth every minute. Maybe you've been around guineas before - I apologize in advance if so - but they are (stupid) endearing, graceful, quirky and charming birds, and you'll probably want more than 15 before it's all over with. The "classic" guinea you're talking about is called a Pearl Gray. Good luck and keep us informed!
     
  3. Raen

    Raen Songster

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    Thank you, JLeigh. I'm thinking it's going to have to be keets, I'm no luck finding adults. The property has a couple of old sheep sheds on it, one of which (the one on the left in the photo) I think will be pretty easy to predator-proof. These sheds are surrounded by fencing, I was just hoping they could at least run around outside the shed before 6 weeks. :)

    [​IMG]
     
  4. stoopid

    stoopid Chicken Fairy Godmother

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    Those things are CRAZY!! I have had them.
    You may want to order twice as many as you think you will need.
    If you can't find them, they will be on the roof.
    Of the house, the car, and the shed.
    And down the road, in the road, and at the neighbors house.
    Chickens will eat the ticks, too.
    Just my opinion....[​IMG]
    They are just like noisy teenagers.
    Very noisy!
    Good luck with them.
    And get some chickens, too.
     
  5. Raen

    Raen Songster

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    :D

    Chickens, we have. Love the chickens. But I think this job is more than the laying hens can handle.
     
  6. PeepsCA

    PeepsCA Crowing

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    Unfortunately there's not many shortcuts you can take before free ranging a batch of keets... keets really need to be brooder raised with a heat source for 6 weeks (or a small safe pen in the coop), gradually lowering the temps each week so they can get acclimated and finally feather out all the way to the point they can regulate their own body temps and not get chilled and die. Daytime temps aren't as crucial and so once they've grown a little you can just use the heat source at night and yes, IMO they can be let out in the pen on nice days, but you will want to start establishing the cooping up at night routine with them and make sure to get them into a warm safe coop each night. No exceptions. Using the same call/word each and every time you feed them or give them treats from the very start teaches them to associate that call/word with FOOOOD... and that comes in very handy when you want to get them in each night, or before a storm hits, or if you have to suddenly leave and won't be around to get them in before dark etc.

    I do not let my birds truly free range until they are 12 weeks old, mainly because they just do not have enough brain matter to cope with all the dangers, stay out of trouble and not get lost. And even at that age I start out with just short periods of free ranging then back into the coop and pen they go, and I keep doing this for a couple weeks, gradually increasing the time they are out and working on establishing the cooping up routine the whole time during this initial free ranging period. There are other ways to raise and keep keets/Guineas of course, this is just what works for me

    I think your sheds will be excellent coop set ups, but the pens will need to be covered with some netting or wire of some kind, keets can fly as early as 2 weeks old plus you do not want hawks swooping down and nabbing them. And yes, the lighter colored birds are more prone to predator loss, but it all depends on the predator load in your area, how brazen(and hungry) the predators are, if you have dogs or other livestock roaming around etc... once a predator sees, smells and knows where dinner is served they don't care if it's black, white or covered in BBQ sauce [​IMG]

    Full grown Guineas are very cold hearty, and as long as they have a sheltered coop to roost in, aren't waterlogged/soaked to the bone they typically do fine in even harsh winter weather. A little extra fat and protein in their diet during the cold weather months helps keep them warm also. They hate snow tho, and if let out when there is snow on the ground they may take to the trees and stay there until either the snow is gone or they freeze/starve to death and fall out of the tree (I'm not kidding!), so it's usually a good idea to keep them in until most of it melts or they may refuse to come back tothe coop because of the scary cold white stuff on the ground. Some people have to actually dig paths in the snow and lay down straw to get their dumb birds back in the coop, lol.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2012
  7. stoopid

    stoopid Chicken Fairy Godmother

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    Yes, I have done the snow path thing, too.
    Proso millet is the most commonly used bribe to get Guineas back into the coop.
    Or, at least that is what I have used.
    That, and a broom.
     
  8. Raen

    Raen Songster

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    PeepsCA, you are just a wealth of information! Thank you for taking the time to post in all these threads (I've been reading this forum for a few hours.)

    In terms of brooding them, is it about the same drill as brooding chicks, or do they need to be warmer/cooler?
     
  9. Raen

    Raen Songster

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    Oh, and as far as predators, we do have foxes and a couple of times a year I'll see a hawk, but so far we haven't had any problems with free-ranging our chickens. There are almost as many chipmunks around here as ticks, so maybe all the baddies are just well-fed.
     
  10. JLeigh

    JLeigh Songster

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    I'm also a HUGE fan of training guineas to come back into the coop at night. Mine go in by themselves now about 80-85% of the time - a little later than the chickens who coop themselves at dusk almost 99% of the time. It seems like a lot of work, and it is a time investment, but I think it's worth every minute of trouble. Once they get the hang of it, life is MUCH easier.

    Proso millet doesn't work for me. I bought 50 lbs of it, thinking I was making my life easier and the guineas happier, but they don't have much interest in it. Mealworms do the trick, but they're very expensive! I use them sparingly. Every night about the same time I go out and say, "Look-look-look" (long story how I started that term) and hold out my hand with a few mealworms in it. They come running, as though they love me dearly. (I wish).

    Routine is important, and being consistent. Every single time you give them their favorite treat, say the same word or phrase over and over until they eat a few bites. Then be quiet. Use their favorite treat to bribe them back to the coop if necessary. I drop one or two mealworms at a time, walk another 10 feet, drop another mealworm...until they're in the coop. Works every time.

    However, I've found that two people doing the "herding" works better than herding sticks and fortunately I have a husband who is happy to help.

    There is more than one way to get a guinea to do what you want them to do. Have a few methods on hand for those pesky times when the guineas just don't want to do what you want them to do. But training when they're young is the key. It doesn't take long, and it's fun to see the progress.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2012

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